Couple crash stolen car then steal responding trooper’s patrol vehicle, police say

A Mazda reported stolen and involved in rollover crash off of I-80 sits damaged in the salt flats Sunday, Tooele County, Utah, July 30, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A rollover crash involving a stolen car in Tooele County turned into two stolen cars when a responding trooper’s patrol vehicle was allegedly stolen by a handcuffed woman Sunday.

Shortly after 9 a.m. a Utah Highway Patrol trooper responded to the rollover on Interstate 80 at mile post 21 near Grantsville involving a dark-colored Mazda passenger car carrying two occupants.

A trooper investigates after a rollover on I-80 involving a Mazda that was reported stolen, Tooele County, Utah, July 30, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

The trooper arrived within minutes and found the extensively damaged vehicle off to the right of the highway, along with a pickup truck whose driver appeared to have stopped to help immediately after the crash, UHP Trooper Evan Kirby said in a statement released Sunday evening.

The Mazda’s occupants were loading their personal belongings into the pickup that stopped to assist when the trooper learned that the Mazda was reported stolen, the statement said.

At that point 28-year-old Tommy Rodriguez of West Valley City and 32-year-old Brady Willes of Kearns were taken into custody for the stolen car and handcuffed behind their backs before the trooper placed the pair in the back seat of his patrol car. 

The trooper stepped away from his vehicle to retrieve the items from the passerby’s pickup truck when, according to the statement, the handcuffed woman drove the patrol car away from the scene. 

As the suspects sped away, the man who stopped to help lent the trooper his pickup, Kirby said.

The trooper jumped in the truck and headed toward the pair while alerting dispatch of the situation and was able to provide the direction the couple was headed, as well as other pertinent information to assist the multiple agencies responding to the call.

A Mazda reported stolen and involved in rollover crash off of I-80 sits damaged in the salt flats Sunday, Tooele County, Utah, July 30, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

After driving for approximately 3 miles, the handcuffed Willes pulled off the road near mile marker 24, and the couple jumped out of the car and fled south on foot into the nearby salt flats.

Air support was requested, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office dispatched a fixed-wing aircraft to assist and was able to locate Willes and Rodriguez during an aerial search of the area.

That information was relayed to assisting agencies while the Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was used to call the pair out from where they were hiding, Kirby said, and both were taken safely into custody.

Rodriguez was transported by ambulance to Mountain West Medical Center in Tooele to be treated for possible breathing problems that could have been caused by asthma, drug use or the crash, the trooper said.

Willes was also transported to the hospital in a trooper’s vehicle, Kirby said, “just to be checked out, and to make sure she was okay before she went to jail.”

Charges are still pending while incident remains under investigation.

The Utah Highway Patrol, Grantsville City Police K-9, Tooele County Sheriff’s Office and the Utah State Bureau of Investigation assisted with the incident, along with aerial support provided by the Department of Public Safety and Utah County Sheriff’s Office.

This report is based on statements provided by law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • Caveat_Emptor July 31, 2017 at 7:57 am

    For folks who have not driven this lonely stretch of I-80, there is not much vegetation on either side of the roadway……not a great place to hide.

    • desertgirl July 31, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      No it is not a great place to hide; but then again the average criminal is not very bright.

  • knobe July 31, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Please please clarify how someone with their hands cuffed Behind their backs can drive Any car ?
    Unless she was able to wiggle her hands under her butt to the front . . . very Not easy for most people .
    But if that was the case , I’m thinking the article would have indicated she had slipped out . . . .

    • comments July 31, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      most people? is it really? I’m out of shape with fairly short arms and can still slip them to the front.

      • ladybugavenger July 31, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Fairly short arms, let’s see, um, like John McCain or closer to a T-Rex?

    • Brian August 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      She is my love I know exactly how she did it she is double jointed

  • DRT July 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    One thing you can bet on is that there’s a very red faced trooper who’s going to be the butt of numerous inside jokes by law enforcement. Until the next big goof happens.
    As for slipping the handcuffs, lots of people are able to bring them to the front. Skinny people, that is. I’ve also seen a couple of smaller boned females that could slip their hands right through the cuffs. Quite an unpleasant surprise!

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